Sunday, January 3, 2016

See Me Burning

Death Or Glory:
The Best of 2015



Muthas, 2015 has bit the dust and I’m back with a list of all the best, and some of the worst albums, EPs, concerts, reissues and album covers.  Enjoy!

Thunder & Lightning - The Best Albums of 2015

2015 seemed to be a slower year for releases, but there were several excellent albums that grabbed my attention.  Here’s the best of them:


Black Trip – Shadowline

This is a great sophomore release from these Swedish purveyors of tasty, melodic, heavy 70s style hard rock.  They sure do love Thin Lizzy which makes them all right in my book.  Check out “Berlin Model 32” for a rollicking good time.



Visigoth – The Revenant King

Crushing and bruising their way into my ironclad heart is the debut LP from Salt Lake City’s own Visigoth.  Full review here.



Venom – From The Very Depths

Cronos and crew roar back to life with a solid and unexpectedly good album of signature latter day Venom.  Full review here. 



Raven – ExtermiNation

NWOBHM stalwarts, Raven, have crafted a superb album that easily eclipses their last couple of albums.  The LP is chock full of their “athletic rock” stylings, and harkens back to their first three albums. Check out the excellent “Fight.”



Armored Saint – Win Hands Down

The new album completely wipes the floor with their weak sauce last album and has energy and inspiration to spare.  The fire in the belly is palpable here as these traditional metal stalwarts offer up an album of blistering guitar work and amazing vocals.  At least seven of the cuts are classics and this is definitely their best album since Symbol of Salvation.  Guitars, guitars, guitars everywhere!!!! Check out “An Exercise In Debauchery.” 



Sorcerer – In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross

I can’t blame you if you’ve never heard of Sorcerer, because they had only released two demos and then faded into obscurity over twenty years ago.  They reformed in 2010 and this year they cranked out this spectacular album of epic doom metal.  If you like Tony Martin era Black Sabbath you will love this.  Each track is like a pounding anvil of doom straight to the skull!  Check out “TheDark Tower Of The Sorcerer” for an idea of how good this album is.


Satan – Atom By Atom

Yet another superb album from these NWOBHM merchants.  Check out the full review here.



Saxon – Battering Ram

Cleary, Saxon can do no wrong.  They are rivalled only by Motorhead and Overkill when it comes to only releasing excellent and consistent albums in the last 25 years.  On Battering Ram, the band offers up an album that is full of top-notch power metal sprinkled with rock solid traditional metal.  Damn this is good.  Check out the title track.



Ram – Svbversvm

Whatever Sweden is doing to encourage excellent metal, they are doing it right because Ram has released the best album of their career.  I like their entire discography, but this LP displays loads of Screaming For Vengence era Priest-ish style and very memorable songs.  I can’t recommend this one enough!  Please buy it and support this type of traditional metal.  Check out “Enslaver” and you’ll understand my effusive praise.


Night Demon – Curse Of The Damned

What can I say about Night Demon’s first LP that I haven’t already said in the full review here?  Not much, other than to tell you that it’s easily one of the best traditional metal albums released in the last 25 years.  Buy or die!


Enforcer – From Beyond

Damn Enforcer is good.  They always deliver and this year is no different.  Check out my full review here.


Motorhead – Bad Magic

I am writing this shortly after Lemmy slipped this mortal coil for the great mead hall in the sky and it’s nearly impossible to overstate just how important he was to heavy music of the past 40 years.  He always delivered the goods.  Always.  No faltering.  No trend hopping.  No “return to form” because he never was out of form. No comeback because he never left.  This album is no different.  Sure, he might sound a bit threadbare, but he was 69 when he recorded this and on his last legs.  Guess what?  Bad Magic is better than 99% of the bullshit that most magazines, blogs, writers, journos and other idiots drone on and on about.  Was there ever an album that was as much of a goodbye as this one?  The lyrics are full of farewells and no regrets.  It’s a biography of a life of no bullshit and no compromises.  Check out the lyrics to “Thunder & Lightning” which tell you all you ever need to know about Lemmy and Motorhead:

I always wanted the scream in the night
I always wanted the noise and the light
     Standing on the stage the thrill never fades
     The ultimate rage, raving and fighting
     Maybe you’ll shake, maybe you’ll break
     You’ll never escape, thunder and lightning


One Short Life – The Best EPs of 2015


Orchid – Sign Of The Witch

Surprise! Orchid’s back with another great EP. Of course they are.  Check out the full review here.



Denner / Shermann - Satan's Tomb

This is a killer little EP that features the always amazing Michael Denner and Hank Shermann ripping it up with solos and riffs galore.  On top of that, the EP features the stellar vocals of Sean Peck who also fronts Cage and Death Dealer.  This blows Force of Evil out of the water and it's very good, old school power metal.  A full length LP is supposed to follow in 2016.  Check out “Satan’s Tomb.”


No Sleep At All – The Best Live Album of 2015


Enforcer – Live By Fire

Not content with having one of the best studio albums of the year, Enforcer have released the best live album of the year – Live By Fire.  If you haven’t heard anything from the band this is as good as any place to start because this is a virtual greatest hits set.  The band sounds great as they blast through sixteen tracks live from the Kytarro Clue in Athens, Greece.  The CD version of the album also include a cracking DVD featuring nine songs live from Japan.  Finally, all versions of the release have a bonus 3 track EP – Speak The Tongue Of Heathen Gods – included to further add more bang for the buck for the fan.  Check out the ripping “Scream Of The Savage.”

Dancing On Your Grave - The Best Reissues of 2015


Wargasm – Why Play Around?

Finally an official reissue of the debut from Boston’s Wargasm!  This album has been bootlegged for years, and now we get a real reissue with great sound and nice packaging.  If you are a fan of Motorhead and especially Tank this will be right down your alley.  This is a definite must buy!  Check out their classic “Revenge.”




Shok Paris – Steel And Starlight (The Auburn Sessions)

Hello Cleveland!  Auburn Records has thankfully released their version of this 1987 USPM classic!  This reissue features a completely different mix from the I.R.S. Records release, the original running order and a host of bonus tracks. The band sounds great on this and Vic Hix’s vocals are stellar as always.  His soulful, passionate tone added so much to Shok Paris and set them apart from their contemporaries.  Check out their all time great cut “Tokye Rose.”

I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care) – The Biggest Disappointments of 2015


The Sword – High Country

I love The Sword and I was looking forward to their new album.  Unfortunately, High Country sounds like an album by a band that's rushed and confused. They can’t seem decide what they want do or sound like, and as a result the album never really gels. Also fifteen tracks is about five too many and the album needs some judicious trimming.  Nothing stuck with me after repeated listens and quickly faded from my playlists.  Oh well, maybe the next release will be more focused.



Panzer – Send Them All To Hell

Who didn’t think a band featuring Schmier from Destruction and Herman Frank and Stefan Schwarzmann of Accept wouldn’t be great?  Well, it wasn’t.  The album did absolutely nothing for me and is lacking any real hooks.  It also got lost in the early January release shuffle here in the United States.  Maybe things will get better on the next LP.  


We’re Artists! We’re Sensitive As Shit! – The Best Album Cover of 2015



Panzer’s album may have been a pile of meh, but their album cover is kick ass!  A giant panzer!  Flamethrowers!  Fire! Skulls!  Apocalyptic visions!  Count me in with those visuals. Well done Gyula Havancsak.  Your artwork is everything a heavy metal cover should be.  Hail and Kill!

Stone Deaf In The USA – The Best Concerts of 2015



Night Demon – June 6th, Gooski’s, Pittsburgh PA

Night Demon killed it in a tiny Pittsburgh club for a small group of hardcore fans. Check out the full review and setlist here.

Overkill – September 21st, Altar Bar, Pittsburgh PA

I hadn’t seen Overkill since the Relixiv tour back in 2005, and thankfully they hadn’t missed a step in the intervening decade.  They were a well-oiled machine and played an excellent set of classics and newer material that had the pit going all night.  I was nursing a cold, but even I was singing along at the top of my lungs.  I hope to see them again in the near future!

Saxon/Armored Saint – September 17th, Altar Bar, Pittsburgh PA

Saxon hadn’t played Pittsburgh since 1983 and Armored Saint had never played Pittsburgh so this was destined to be a special night.  The Altar Bar was completely full and the crowd was electric.  This might have been the most enthusiastic crowd I have ever been in.  Armored Saint seemed stunned by the thunderous response they received from the crowd and they were in fine form.  I hope they come back to the Steel City soon.  I haven’t seen Saxon since 1998(!) and they were amazing.  The crowd was euphoric and sang along to every song.  The band even took requests because they had been absent from Pittsburgh for so long.  God damn it was great.  It’s nights like these that remind me why I put up with all the bullshit of going to a live show.  There’s nothing better than being in a crowd that’s completely at one with a band’s performance – totally chill inducing.

Y&T – May 5th, Altar Bar, Pittsburgh PA

Finally!  Y&T is one of my all-time favorite bands and I own their entire discography, but I had never managed to see them.  Thankfully, I have now and they more than delivered.  Dave Meniketti still sounds great and his playing is superb.  The band was in great form and they had a great rapport with the audience.  Thanks for the great show and I hope to see you again!

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That's it muthas!  Thanks for reading and I'll see you all right back here in 2016.

As always, MAKE MINE METAL!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Burning Metal


Rockaway Drive – We Live



Independent – 2012

Muthas, I’m not normally in the habit of reviewing three year old albums, but I was listening to an episode of the always awesome Rock And Metal Combat Podcast, and cohost Ian Wadley recommended a band by the name of Rockaway Drive.  He played a couple of their songs and I was completely blown away by the quality of the cuts.  I immediately began searching for information on them and I found their Facebook page and ReverbNation account.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate any of their CDs for sale, and there only appeared to be a couple of their tracks for sale as downloads.  I then contacted the band and they quickly responded with information and a link to their whole album on Youtube. Thanks guys!  

Rockaway Drive is from the same city that’s home to half of my family - Louisville, Kentucky - and they play rock solid, traditional heavy metal.  In fact, if their debut album We Live had been released back in 1984, it would slot right in with other U.S. Power Metal like Shok Paris, Ded Engine, Breaker, and Riot. There’s a ton of mid-80s Judas Priest to many of these songs too, which is always a good thing.   

We Live features ten tracks and is 39 minutes long, which is the perfect length for an album – not so much material that you lose interest, but rather they leave you wanting more.  The songs themselves are mostly straight-up traditional metal with tasteful guitars and a solid rhythm section.  There are a couple of slightly more commercial tracks, and by that I mean commercial for 1984 because they sure as aren’t commercial for 2015!  The vocalist on the album is very good and he sounds like one part Rhett Forrester, one part Harry Conklin, with a dash of Midnight and a pinch of Mandy Lion’s rough edge.  Basically, he’s got the perfect voice for this type of material – melodic with a rough edge.  

Check out the songs “We Live” and “Black Witch” which are great examples of what they do.  In fact, just listen to the whole album below:



The band was nice enough to provide me with the following bio which should answer most of your questions: 

“Rockaway Drive was formed in August of 2009 with one goal in mind and that was to bring back the sounds of 70s and 80s Heavy Metal. In the six years of the band’s existence they have played countless local shows in the Louisville, KY area, and they have opened for such acts as Metal Legends Accept, Quiet Riot, and most recently, Sanctuary.  They released their debut album, We Live in 2012 to much critical acclaim.  Over the years there have been a few line-up changes and other challenges, but the band continues to march forward!  The current line-up are led by the twin axe attack of Mick Watkins and Wes Rogers, vocalist Dani O’Dea, bassist Brad Rogers and drummer Nigel Paul.  They are currently writing material for their sophomore release and aiming for a 2016 release date.”

Also, check out the following live videos featuring the current lineup:





I am looking forward to their new album and I hope they make We Live available in its entirety either digitally or in a physical format.  Pro tip - a Bandcamp page is always a good way to sell some downloads and merch!
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The Bottom Line: Do you like U.S.P.M. and traditional heavy metal and do you like supporting independent bands?  If so, check out Rockaway Drive and throw them some coin when their new album is released.  I know I will. 


As always, MAKE MINE METAL!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Let Them Pacify While We Annihilate

Satan - Atom By Atom


Listenable – 2015

Muthas, in 2015 several NWOBHM bands have released, or are set to release, new albums.  I’ve already reviewed the new Iron Maiden, I’ll review the new Saxon shorty, and this time I’m reviewing the new album from Satan.  In 2013, Satan came out of nowhere with one of the best albums of the year – Life Sentence.  It has a legitimate claim to the crown for most impressive comeback album of all time.  The band intentionally wrote and recorded the album as if they were recording the follow-up to their 1983 classic Court In The Act.  Most bands claim to do this, but they normally deliver something that’s various shades of disappointing.  Life Sentence delivered on that promise and then some, with the album being maybe the best thing they have ever done.  So how does the new album, Atom By Atom stack up?  Read on!

Atom By Atom picks right up where Life Sentence left off and is definitely a worthy successor.  It features their patented intricate guitar work, solid rhythm section, and the ageless voice of Brian Ross. The forty seven minute album offers up ten tracks that are all good if not great.  There are no low points on the album to bore the listener, which is very rare with older, reunited bands. 

“Farewell Evolution” kicks off the proceedings with a killer scream and then tons of frantic, frenetic guitars that propel song ably.  It’s a great way to launch an album!  “Fallen Saviour” and “Ruination” display more pure speed, hooky guitar work and tasty vocals.  “The Devil’s Infantry” has appropriately martial drumming and crunchy guitars with really cool lyrics. Also, the final scream from Ross is a perfect display of his vocal power. Check it out here along with the rest of the album:




It should be noted that Satan write some insanely catchy choruses that will drill right into your gray matter and stay there for days and the title track is a great example of this. There are a couple of other superlatives tracks on the album – the galloping “In Contempt,” the middle-eastern flavored tinged “Ahriman,” and the uber-catchy “Bound In Enmity,” which reminds of their song “Twenty Twenty Five.” So damn good!

One of the absolute highlights of the LP is the final cut, “The Fall Of Persephone” which spins an epic tale of the destruction of the Earth by a meteor.  This is a departure for Satan with its varied tempos, mid-song spoken word piece, and the result is an unmitigated triumph. This sprawling track proves that you don’t need eighteen minutes to tell a great story and enthrall your audience.  Also, it’s not about a fucking blimp that crashes, which certainly helps.

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The Bottom Line:   This is a great album and a more than worthy follow up to “Life Sentence.”  It’s definitely worth picking up if you are a fan of the band, the NWOBHM or great heavy metal in general.  There’s much to love here and it’s definitely worth purchasing, so go out and get it.

As always, MAKE MINE METAL!  

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Of Lols?

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls



BMG – 2015

Muthas, have you noticed that every recent album from the Old Masters of Metal has been praised to the hilt as being superb – Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, AC/DC, and now Iron Maiden?  Let’s face the truth, most of these albums range from awful, to forgettable, to passable, to average.  None of them is “the best thing the band has ever done” regardless of what most reviewers and the band members themselves claim.  So that brings us to the latest album from Iron MaidenThe Book Of Souls.  Most of the reviews of this album have devolved into nothing more than a hagiography of Maiden, with such absurd claims that it’s the best album since Brave New World, or Fear Of The Dark, or Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, or even more absurdly Powerslave.  Come on man, that’s total bullshit.  Let’s not go crazy here, and instead let’s take a look at this album with an honest, critical eye.

Two things are immediately apparent upon the first listen to this 93 minute double album- the production by Kevin Shirley is fucking atrocious and Bruce’s vocals are very strained on the majority of the tracks. It’s is baffling to me that the band retains the services of Shirley because his production jobs are universally terrible.  There is absolutely no separation of the various instruments and the drum sound is particularly bad.  Poor Nicko’s drums sound like state of the art cardboard box drum sound from 1995.  Awful.  Bruce is really pushing it on most of the songs and the results are disappointing and troubling.  Bruce needs to take a page from Rob Halford’s book and pull it back a notch and realize that age has caught up with him.  The tongue cancer and chemo can’t have helped matters either.

What about the songs?  Well, there are eleven of them spread over two CDs.  Disc one clocks in at 50 minutes and disc two at 43 minutes. Of course there are some longer tracks, but there are many sub eight minute cuts for a change.  The album kicks off with “If Eternity Should Fail” and it’s a very good opener, with a catchy chorus and doesn’t feel its eight minute length.  The next song is the lead single, “Speed of Light” which feels dull and lifeless at first, but does get somewhat better with repeated listens.  There is a cool video game themed video for it which you can check out below:



“The Great Unknown is a good song that delivers the goods and has that vintage Maiden sound, but the album comes to a screeching halt with the next cut, “The Red And The Black.” Unfortunately, this is not a cover of the killer BOC song, but rather a bloated thirteen minute cut that could really use some judicious trimming.  Of course this is a Steve Harris construction and exhibits all of his worst modern day songwriting habits.  There’s probably a great five minute song lurking in there someplace, but I don’t have the patience for Steve’s bullshit. 

Thankfully, this is followed by “When The River Runs Deep” which shows tons of pep and is not repetitive at all which helps to clean the palate after “The Red And The Black.” Disc one closes with the ten minute title cut, and of the three ten-minute-plus songs on the album it’s the best.

Disc two opens with “Death Or Glory” which sounds like the Iron Maiden of the days of yore and is easily one of the best songs on the album.  It’s direct, full of energy and is a fun listen.  “Shadows Of The Valley” is enjoyable and sounds like something that could have been on Somewhere In Time without the synth guitars. 

“Tears Of A Clown” has cringe inducing lyrics about a comedian that’s really sad inside and it’s dedicated to Robin Williams. Maiden deserves a round of cock punches for this trite horseshit.  A clown that’s sad?!  How inventive!  I’ve never heard of that before.  Fuck off with this.  Paradoxically, the music is very good on this track with some very nice guitar work.  Too bad about the lyrics being hot garbage.

“The Man Of Sorrows” is a bit lackluster and sort of just plods along. It’s not the worst song on the album, but it’s one of the more forgettable compositions.  By the way, really inventive song title there Maiden.  It’s not like Bruce has a far superior song with the same title or anything.    

And that leaves us with only the eighteen minute and three second “Empire Of The Clouds” which many are hailing as a masterpiece on par with “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.”  Those people are fucking idiots. This song is thirteen minutes too long and is a perfect example of self-indulgent, repetitive twaddle featuring Bruce Dickinson at his pretentious worst.  Egads.  There isn’t even a guitar solo until ten minutes into this journey to the center of boredom.  The rest of the band was probably like, “Oh fuck!  Bruce has cancer!  We’d better indulge this horseshit because who knows how long he’ll be around.”  Of course it’s about a blimp that crashed in 1930.  How exciting!  I’d rather listen to Bruce recite passages from a 747 maintenance manual.  Fuck this shit. Boo!!!!
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Well this is harsh.  It's not that bad.

The Bottom Line:  The Book Of Souls is not a great Iron Maiden album, but it is the best Iron Maiden album since the reunion.  Of course, that’s not much of a high bar to hurdle, but they did at least achieve that.  If you are a fan of the band from their classic period you will find a lot to enjoy here even with its flaws.  It’s bloated with several tracks that are absurdly long, but you can always skip the nonsense.  If this sounds like something you’d like, then go buy it, or better yet, go buy Bruce’s Accident Of Birth and The Chemical Wedding which are far better than anything that Maiden has put out since 1988.


As always, MAKE MINE METAL!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Killers Are Ready

Enforcer - From Beyond


Nuclear Blast Records - 2015

Muthas, Swedish metallers Enforcer are back with their fourth album, From Beyond, and it's a blazing 42 minutes of 100% pure, unadulterated, chromium steel. 2013's Death By Fire was great, and this new album is definitely its equal, if not even better! It’s rock-solid and all of the songs are top notch, which makes it a great companion to Death By Fire. There are loads of balls-out speed metal tracks mixed with heavy doses of traditional metal, and that's a winning combination in my book. 

From Beyond features mostly speedier cuts, as it to be expected from Enforcer, but it does have a couple of longer, epic tracks that are very good.  Frankly, there aren't any bad songs on the album at all.  It's clear that Enforcer knows how to write excellent songs, and one of their strengths is their choruses - they are total earworms!  Some bands struggle with this, but Enforcer's choruses will be stuck in your head long after you're done listening to the album. Also, the album is very well sequenced and is the perfect length for vinyl - all of which is conducive to a great listening experience.

"Destroyer" is the absolutely ripping opening cut and it's also the lead single and video.  Check it out below:



"Undying Evil" is the second track and it's another freewheel burner with an anthemic chorus and lyrics about vampires.  Check out the video for this bloodthirsty killer of a tune:



"One With Fire" and “Hell Will Follow” are examples of the killer, balls out, speedsters that have become a staple of Enforcer albums. Once again, the band has included an excellent instrumental - "Hungry They Will Come" - and it's positioned perfectly at the midpoint of the proceedings.  I love that Enforcer has a real appreciation for meaty instrumentals, as they've become something of a lost art since their 80s heyday.  Well done lads. "Below The Slumber" and "Mask Of Red Death" are the two longer, epic tracks and they are both very good.  They ably showcase another aspect of the band's excellent songwriting skills.  Would you like to hear some sweet, dual-guitar Maidenisms without ploughing through a 92 minute, two CD monstrosity? If the answer is yes, you should definitely check out the guitar noodling on “The Banshee.” 
  
In other news, Enforcer is releasing their first live album – Live By Fire – on November 20th and they are embarking on a co-headling tour of the States with Warbringer, Cauldron, and Exmortus.  Here are the dates:


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The Bottom Line: From Beyond is a great follow-up to Death By Fire and is well worth picking up if you are a fan of Traditional Metal, Speed Metal or plain old good music.  Enforcer proves once again why they are the cream of crop of the NWOTHM.  Highly recommended!

As always, MAKE MINE METAL!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Blackened Swarms Of Sorrow

Orchid – Sign Of The Witch


Nuclear Blast Records – 2015

Muthas, San Francisco doomsters Orchid are back with their fifth (!) EP and, as per usual, it’s a superb mini-collection of 70s-inspired metal.  Most people think of EPs as being throwaways or stop-gaps, but Orchid’s are just as good as their LPs.  They assemble all of their recordings with great care regardless of the length which is not usually the case with other bands.  I love these shorter musical statements and I wish more bands would embrace the format, but I doubt they are very lucrative financially.   

Here’s a breakdown of the tracks:

“Helicopters” – Starts the album off with a crash and follows with a sense of impending destruction that permeates the rest of the song. Lyrically it’s about a village that’s being attacked, most likely during the Vietnam War.   It’s a very good track and reminds me a bit of “War Pigs.”

"John The Tiger" – The song is a perfect example of how Orchid truly understands one facet of Sabbath’s music that’s frequently missing from other doom bands – sometimes you just gotta swing!  This is definitely a toe-tapper and one of the highlights of the EP.  Killer!

"Under The Sign Of The Witch" – The lead single/video is a prototypical Orchid song, which means it recalls the glory of the Sabs without exactly copying any one particular song.  A massive drum sound is coupled with an excellent chorus that will get stuck in your brain for hours.  You’ve been warned!  Check out the video below:



"Strange Winds" – The last cut is a mystical, ethereal ballad that features a creepy 60s style organ sound that compliments and enhances the atmosphere of the song.  Orchid always excels at these ballads – e.g., “Falling Away” – and this one is no exception. 

One of the reasons that Orchid is one of my favorite bands is they understand the importance of cover art, fonts and layout.  They’ve got a very good sense of aesthetics and this time it’s exemplified by the 3d cover art on the EP, the cool fonts on the cover and spine, and the use of Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death for center labels and on the back cover.  Kudos fellas!

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The Bottom Line:  Sign Of The Witch is another excellent EP and it’s certainly worth your bucks.  If you’ve never purchased anything by Orchid, this is a great place to start as it’s a good overview of what they have to offer.  Check it out.


As always, MAKE MINE METAL!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Party With The Demons Down Below



Venom – From The Very Depths




Spinefarm Records – 2015

Muthas, NWOBHM stalwarts Venom released a new album back in January and it’s a rib-cracking, gut-pounding, rip-ride of Metal.  It might be the best thing they have done since their 1995 reunion, and it’s certainly the best release with the current lineup of Cronos, Rage and Dante.  Let me state right off the bat that if you are only a fan of “classic” Venom from their Neat Records days, you might not like this album.  This is modern Venom and it’s much more groove-oriented than what you may have been expecting.  If you only like Black Metal this won’t be your cup of poison, but you might want to give it a listen anyway if you like your thrash with some groove.

The band’s last album was Fallen Angels from way back in 2011, and it was a long slog through fifteen tracks of lackluster tunes.  From The Very Depths is 14 tracks and its fifteen minutes shorter than Fallen Angels and two of those tracks are brief instrumentals, so there’s only 12 tracks of real material.  The shorter length really helps tighten up the proceedings and, as a result, the album never feels long and has a great flow.  Cronos is the producer and his knob-twiddling efforts result in a superb production that is the best any Venom album has ever had.   The album is packed full of loads of mid-paced, crushing songs such as “Smoke,” “Temptation,” “Stigmata,” “Crucified,” “Mephistopheles,” and “Wings Of Valkyrie,”  Check out the video for “Smoke” below:



There are some speedier cuts sprinkled throughout the album to keep things moving along such as the title track, “The Death of Rock N Roll,” “Grinding Teeth,” and “Long Haired Punks.”  Check out the videos for “Long Haired Punks” and "Grinding Teeth" below:





One oddity is the track “Evil Law” which is a groovy mid-paced, stomper that’s apparently sung in Ancient Sumerian?!  I am not so sure I believe that one, but that’s what Conrad Lant is claiming and my Ancient Sumerian Rosetta Stone lessons were lost in the mail, so I guess we’ll just have to take old Cronos at his word. The album closes with the anthemic “Rise” which would make a great opening live track when they hit the road.  Venom is on the bill for the Maryland Deathfest XIV in 2016, so maybe they’ll play some of these new tracks then.   

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The Bottom Line:  Venom has conjured up a surprisingly good album of groove-based thrash, and if that’s your thing you should definitely pick this one up.  It’s clearly superior to all the other modern Venom albums, and it’s great to see them come out with an album that’s this good so late in their career. 


As always, MAKE MINE METAL!